Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Interview with Seth Alsbury, Founder of Panjea
II recently bumped into Seth Alsbury, Founder of Panjea (www.panjea.com), an online social network. Panjea has gotten some attention for its service, particularly the company's music and video content. There are quite a few companies in the social networking space, so I asked Seth to describe to me what the difference is between Panjea and everyone else, and to tell me a bit about the background of himself and the team.
Ben Kuo: What is Panjea?
Seth Alsbury: Panjea's mission is to unite and empower creative people to make a living doing what they love. We offer the first ever social network with a marketplace for users to make money from the original music and video content they generate. How it works: Users set their price and sell their content on a download basis, keeping 80 percent, and/or they can earn a percentage of the advertising revenue which the network generates from that content. We bring the sponsors, users bring the content, we marry the two and everyone makes money. It's a platform that is self-organizing and collaborative. We hope we can effect positive social change by empowering creative people to co-operate and ultimately to self-govern.
Ben Kuo: How are you different from all the other many, many other video swapping and social networking web sites?
Seth Alsbury: Aside from some unique features, we're differentiated primarily by the marketplace--that's the key. It's a platform which empowers users to make money and get their fair share. We're now raising $5M in Series A funding to put Panjea on the map. We've got the platform, it's time to market it and get the word out to the indie artist community that this unique opportunity exists.
Ben Kuo: Do you have any users signed up now?
Seth Alsbury: It's growing nicely, considering we haven't spent a dime on marketing. We've gotten early some press mentions in the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone, with no PR agency.
There are companies like Revver out there trying to monetize video--hats off to them. Panjea is a full-fledged social network marketplace. We don't just do video, we do music as well, and we offer two ways for users to make money. The first is from the sale of music and video downloads, and the second is from sharing in advertising revenue.
Ben Kuo: What's your background?
Seth Alsbury: I've been incubating this for about seven years. I started a company in 1998, called SourceMine Inc. SourceMine was a marketplace for creative professionals. We raised $12.5M at the end of 1999, and before we could get the product out the bubble burst. I was quite young at the time--only twenty two, and was quickly given a back seat. The board meeting went something like this: the IPO window is closed; we're bringing in new management; and reinventing the business; and you can either take a big check or get on board. I took the check, thank goodness--because the new direction didn't work out. My first idea after that was in early 2000, and was essentially MySpace. I had a plan for it, and owned the domain socialapp.com. The plan was to build a social application, a ubiquitous interface for interpersonal communications and commerce. That evolved into Panjea---the intersecton of Content, Community and Commerce.
Ben Kuo: How about the team?
Seth Alsbury: We just brought on an executive out of Viacom/MTV to be our interim CFO/COO. We're looking for a VP or director level marketing person who can really bring this message to the world.
Ben Kuo: Great! Thanks for the interview!